Hungary: Day 1
This morning I packed up, caught bus 93 at the Presidential Palace to Bratislava’s train station, purchased a train ticket to Budapest for 17€ and did it all in a matter of 25 minutes and off I went barreling down the tracks to Country No. 51 – Hungary. I met the most charming young man from Slovakia, Dany El Buko, who is traveling to Budapest to meet his girlfriend Rita who is from Sardinia. Together we came up with a list of must dos in Budapest and before I knew it 2.5 hrs raced by and I arrived in one of the most exceptional cities on earth. Got some Hungarian forint (100,000 HUF equals $367 USD), bought a 72 hour metro ticket for public transportation within the city (both Buda and Pest) and a Hungarian SIM card ($16USD – yes T- mobile is always more expensive just like in America!) I checked into the Bohem Art Hotel (80,000 HUF for two nights) which is alleged to be a great location right on the Danube River – or one street over anyway – and Bianca set me up with everything I needed. She is fantastic and as this is a big city, I needed all the help I could get.
Finally, I was able to get some good traditional Hungarian food at Magyar Qtr including goulash and chicken stuffed pancakes with sour cream and paparika sauce which was rich in taste. I did a little atmospheric meandering in the area and saw the infamous Chain Bridge and the Vasarcsarnok before heading back to the hotel for a swimsuit, flip flops and a towel because it is Saturday night in Budapest and on Saturday nights it’s none other than Sparty time. That is Spa Party at the Szechenyi Thermal Baths in Pest where rave and spa come together in the most famous Spa City in the world. You may or may not know that there are two districts in this city – one is Buda and one is Pest and they are divided by the Danube River. You also may not know that Budapest sits on a fault line and, as such, there are thermal baths throughout the city which are fed by 120 hot springs and is an ideal place to hang out and relax during the day and party in at night for both tourists and locals alike. During the day the locals chat over a game of chess on floating chess boards and tourists enjoy the thermal manual therapy as they call it and perhaps get a massage or hang out in the sauna. But when the sun disappears the hedonistic side of Budapest rears its ugly head and everyone finds their way to the Sparty or the ruin bars called kerts which are dilapidated buildings turned into watering holes and where the Hungarians drink and socialize.
Tonight before heading to the Sparty at Szechenyi I stopped off at Hosok Tere or Heroes Square and was blown away by the iconic statues of the Seven Chieftains and saw the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier and got an extra special treat as a wonderful little reggae band was giving a concert in the square. Then it was Sparty time and the Black Eyed Peas song “Tonight’s Going to be a Good Night” started playing in my head. First things first – I had to get special permission from the higher ups to roll the cameras for you all and following that I made my way to the locker room and donned a hot pink swimsuit for the evening. Mix hot springs with hot bodies a chilled night and chilled beers and you have the recipe for a Sparty. It’s a must do at least once particularly if you are young and like to drink. While my raving days are definitely behind me, it was worth a look see.
That’s all for now. From Budapest with Love.